What is an Impact Report?

Not everything you do has "impact," as we define it for this reporting system, nor should it. Impact reports are not activity reports. Organizing a field day is a valuable activity but not one with impact. Impact is the difference your programs make in people's lives or how an issue is addressed to change social, economic, civic or environmental conditions. Typically impact is accomplished through repeated contact with an individual over a period of time using various coordinated educational methods or by addressing an issue using a variety of strategies.

As you think about what you have accomplished in your program, ask yourself these questions:

  • What issue or problem did the program or research project address?
  • How was the issue identified?
  • What is different as a result of this program or research?
  • What did this program or research project do for the state's economy?
  • What data and anecdotal evidence has been generated to document the impact?
  • What examples demonstrate the effects of the effort?
  • If there is no data to support the impact currently, what is the potential for impact?

Example of a quality impact statement:

"As a result of Extension-led training, 800 farmers statewide have adopted sustainable agricultural practices, including integrated pest management, crop rotation for disease control, reduced herbicide rates for crop production, refined nutrient management practices, pre-side dress nitrogen testing, and selection of crops best adapted to soils and growing conditions. These practices have resulted in reduced purchased inputs, saving more than $400,000 in pesticide costs on 28,000 acres." Source: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Impact reporting provides a way to:

  • Illustrate the significance of the land-grant effort
  • Show accountability
  • Demonstrate a return on investment
  • Foster a better public understanding of the whole picture of extension, research and teaching
  • Obtain future funding
  • Increase awareness of both the private and public benefits of LSU AgCenter programs

An impact report is a brief summary, in ordinary language, of the economic, environmental and social results of our efforts. It states accomplishments and their payoff to society. An impact report answers these questions: So what? And who cares?

Tailor impact reports to the target audience. A good basic impact report can be easily tweaked for use with multiple audiences.

  1. It takes two to communicate: a sender and a receiver. Writing is not an end in itself. You want the receiver to understand what you have now come to understand. Write in their language with words they understand. Think of a 25-year-old congressional aid as you write. How can you make this person understand the impact of your efforts?
  2. Don't use jargon or acronyms. Don't assume the audience knows what a "BMP" is without explaining it. If you have to use unique terms, explain them.
  3. Be specific without being too wordy. There's a fine line between not enough information and too much information.
  4. Show your evidence. Use facts and figures, being careful not to bore the reader.
  5. Use anecdotes when available and appropriate to illustrate impact.
  6. The people who can best tell our story are the people who have been affected by our programs. If someone else can say how great you are, it is so much more effective than when you do it.

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture